5 Things I Learned From Traveling to the Dominican Republic (Punta Cana)

Hey everybody! I know it’s been a while since the last time I posted on here but life has been throwing me some twists and turns, that’s for sure. I feel like I’m at a place in life where as soon as I get used to a routine, something shifts and I have to adjust to a NEW routine. I’m a big routine person so this has made keeping my intended posting schedule a little difficult. However, now that I’ve explained myself…I will get to the point of why you sat down to read, my trip to the DR. Now just some background information, I haven’t traveled outside of the US (excluding a handful of drunken nights in Tijuana during my undergrad years) since I was 18 and I went on a Eurotrip. When we landed in Punta Cana it was probably 9:30pm and by the time we got our luggage and went through customs, it was 10:30ish. That being said, we couldn’t really see outside of the van that picked us up to go to our resort because it was late and dark. There were only a few times we left the resort so this will not be some blog post on the all the cultural richness the DR has to offer because I unfortunately did not get to see that (this time). With all of that out of the way, I will be sharing 5 things I learned from traveling to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.

1. How Important it is to Know More Than One Language

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely could have gotten along fine at the resort without speaking Spanish but watching how comfortable people got around my sorority sister Lizeth when she spoke to them in their language made me wish I had actually practiced SPEAKING the five-ish years I studied Spanish in high school and in college. I’m just all about communicating with people and I think I would have probably enjoyed my trip a little more if I was able to speak more than one or two sentences. I think this applies to anywhere I want to travel in the future as well. I want to be able to communicate with the locals and really at least have a little bit of conversation with them. I actually could pass for Afro-Latina (specifically Dominican) if I spoke Spanish. When I got to the DR and I spoke the little bit of Spanish I did know, many of the locals thought I was Dominican as well. One of the guys selling rum and mamajuana said I looked like his sister. Honestly I have never heard anything like this except one time when I went to New York and lost my ID and had to report it to the police station (don’t ask).

2. Dancing is an Universal Language

Regardless of what language you speak, we can all be connected through dancing. There are many things I’m not good at but dancing is not one of them. I’ve always loved to dance ever since I was a child and even took jazz, ballet, and hip-hop when I was wayyy younger. The thing I loved about the Dominican Republic is my knowledge on how to dance to various Latin and Caribbean genres really made me feel like I had something in common with people from a different country than me. When the music came on and the entertainment team (locals who performed in the dance shows at night, pool parties, and whatever else at the resort) saw Lizeth and me dancing, they gravitated towards us and even complimented us on our dancing. It was fun to just dance with them. Even if you don’t speak a language, learning dances from other cultures and countries is another great way to feel comfortable and share commonality with people no matter what country you find yourself in. Also, most other countries play American music in their spaces so just get down!

3. To Start a Random Vacation Fund

I didn’t decide I wanted to go to the DR until after I got into law school back in March. Then my grandmother passed away in April and I had to take 2 weeks off of work to be in Ohio, which made me miss out on a little over $1,000. While I obviously was still able to pull of my trip, my life would have been way less stressful if I had a “random vacation fund” to dip into for my trip. I’ve decided that I’m going to put away a certain amount of money every payday for the rest of my life strictly dedicated to traveling. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of this sooner. If you haven’t thought of it yet either, do it! Even if you only put aside $35 a paycheck (biweekly pay) that’s almost $1,000 dollars by the end of the year. I’m sure there is somewhere you could getaway to with that.

4. Leaving The Resort is a Major Key

While earlier I mentioned we didn’t really leave the resort too much, we did leave it once or twice and those were a lot more fun for me than the resort life. While I loved the all-inclusive resort and becoming friends with the bartenders, I’m someone who gets bored of too much of the same stuff. We were there for 8 days and our excursion to Isle Saona saved me from going crazy of being in the pool majority of our trip. If I could re-do one thing, I would have ventured off the resort maybe few other times. I had really wanted to go to Santo Domingo. My tip is to book two excursions BEFORE you get to Punta Cana that way you have to follow through with them. I recommend doing one in the beginning and one towards the end of your stay for the best experience. That’s what I’ll be doing next time.

5. How Much Privilege I Have as an American:

I try not to write too much about my politics on my blog just because I consider a space where I can just…write about my life without any other bullshit out of my control that may influence it. One thing I will say is that different groups of people have certain privileges in this country compared to others (for example: I have privileges as a cisgendered woman compared to a transwoman). Well in the DR, I was introduced to a different privilege that I have, the privilege of just being born in America. While as an African-American woman, shit ain’t always sweet, I have the privilege of pretty much going anywhere I want to in the world (to an extent). I remember I fell in love with Punta Cana and the people and my friend and I declared “we are going to move here for a year in a few years!” and the bartender looked at us like we were crazy. The thing is though, I could probably save up enough to be comfortable in the DR for a year way easier than I could save up to live comfortably in America (well anywhere I would want to live). That’s a privilege of sorts: me deciding that I can just move wherever I please for a year or so. Most people on countries like the DR wouldn’t even think of something like that in regards to moving to America. Also, the workers at the resort worked soooo hard sometimes having 12 hour days only to be paid what converts to $25 a day. Even factoring in different costs of living that’s wild to me. So yeah, I realized how privileged I am to have just been born here. That’s not to say there aren’t people who struggle here as well, but you get what I’m saying.

All in all, my trip to Punta Cana was amazing. I really have never felt like I belonged somewhere as much as I did there. I had this rule about not going to the same place out of the country twice until I go everywhere I want to go but I know the Dominican Republic has changed my mind. I can’t wait to go back! I will be posting a general post about my overall trip later this month so keep an eye out for that. If you can afford to, travel the world. It’s really the best way to see things from a different perspective.

Is there anywhere you want to travel to soon? Let me know in the comments.

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